Bike Tour of the Gulf Islands

On August 5th, 2019, we packed up the e-bikes for a 4 day bike tour of the Gulf Islands. We drove the Jeep to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal parking lot, and rode our bikes onto the Ferry heading for Galiano Island. Galiano is named after the Spanish explorer Dionisio Alcala Galiano, who explored the area in 1792. Galiano is 27.5 kms long and never more than 6 kms wide. We arrived at the Sturdies Bay Ferry Terminal on Galiano Island and rode our bikes to the Woodstone Manor where we left our bags before riding out to Montague Harbour Provincial Park, one of the most popular parks in the Gulf Islands. We stopped for lunch at the Crane and Robin Cafe on Montague Bay, and we had the best meal of salmon burger and jackfruit tacos. We continued the ride out to the Park and stopped for a quick dip in the ocean. Then back to the Woodstone Manor where we checked into our room, the Bridal Suite, for one night. The Woodstone is truly a special place with only 12 rooms, a unique dining Room & Patio offering meals prepared by their executive chef, and situated on 9 private wooded acres with pastoral views. We had the most beautiful, peaceful pastoral view from our room. We spent the evening sitting outside by the Patio fireplace talking with the owners Stefan and Roxanne Orlitzky, and later joined by Tommy Transit, who drives the local bus on the Island. The next morning after a delicious breakfast with Tommy Transit, who sold me his book, “Bus Tales”; we rode our bikes out to The Bluffs Park, which is Galiano’s oldest wilderness park, established in 1948. We rode up the steep gravel rode to the top of the Bluffs and had beautiful views looking out to Active Pass. One more stop at the Woodstone Manor to enjoy a fabulous lunch before heading out to the Ferry to Saltspring Island. Click on thumbnail to view images

Galiano Island

Saltspring Island to Brentwood Bay, Vancouver Island

We had a short visit with my sister, Sue and Denis, and the next day took the ferry from Ganges to Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal on Vancouver Island. Leaving the Swartz Bay we rode along Lands End Road on the north end of the Saanich Peninsula to Brentwood Bay. There are massive, beautiful multi-million dollar houses along the road that we could see briefly as we rode past. We stopped for lunch at the Deep Cove Market and ate in the back patio, it was a beautiful sunny day on the Island. After arriving at our B&B in Brentwood Bay, we walked up the hill to The Butchart Gardens, where we spent the evening walking around and enjoying the beautiful floral displays. The Butchart Gardens has an interesting history: in 1904 Robert Pim and Jennie Butchart came to the west coast from Ontario, and established their home near his quarry on Tod Inlet, at the base of the Saanich Peninsula. In 1909, when the limestone quarry was exhausted, Jennie set about turning it into the Sunken Garden, which was completed in 1921. In 1939, the Butcharts gave the Gardens to their grandson Ian Ross (1918-1997). In 1964, the ever-changing Ross Fountain was installed in the lower reservoir to celebrate the 60th anniversary. We were mesmerized by the constant changing of the water in the Fountain. Ownership of The Gardens remains within the Butchart family; the owner and managing director since 2001 is the Butchart’s great-granddaughter Robin-Lee Clarke. We had not visited The Gardens since the summer of 1986 and it was just as beautiful now as I remembered. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner in The Dining Room, located in the original Butchart family residence, with enchanting views of Tod Inlet and the Italian Garden. After dinner we walked to the outdoor Pavilion to listen to a concert by Rose Cousins. Sitting under the moonlight watching her perform was a great end to a fabulous day. Click on thumbnail to view images

Victoria and The Lockside Trail

Leaving Brentwood Bay we rode along the Centennial Trail into Victoria where we stopped for lunch at Fisherman’s Wharf, just around the corner from Victoria’s Inner Harbour, at Barb’s Famous Fish and Chips. Fisherman’s Wharf is a unique marine destination with a distinct flavour. We saw working fishing vessels, pleasure boats with live-aboard residents, colourful float homes and commercial businesses all moored at the dock. We spent some time riding through the sights of Victoria Harbour, stopping at the BC Parliament Building and the Empress Hotel which sadly has no more green vines cascading down the stone walls. Then we headed for the Lockside Regional Trail to ride the 18 miles back to Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal. First we stopped at the Stonehouse Pub for our last meal on this bike tour. Great way to end with pizza and beer in a quaint restaurant near the Ferry terminal. It was a spectacular four days touring some of the Gulf Islands from our bike seat. Click on thumbnail to view images